Thursday, January 31, 2013

Doubleshot, Please

These days at our house are pretty dark. The mouse problem is, like, really serious. We've made the call to the professionals, and they will be here soon, to provide us with their astronomically-expensive extermination quotes, I suppose.  We don't really have a choice I think, it's that bad. Really bad. I killed a mouse tonight (who surprised me after I drug his/her nesting box out to the back yard) with a shovel, in the dark. It would have made a good scene in The Shining. And I am not kidding. That's how primal this whole thing has gone. Cute as Mr Jingles may be, my mouse compassion meter is pegged at zero.

Having never been through this before, we have been naively assuming that the only problem to be resolved is the extrication of the mice.  Sadly, we would be wrong, then. The far worse problem is the destruction they have left behind. It's horrific stuff and way beyond bloggable.  Patty and I had a HAZ-MAT nest-destruction date tonight, and let me tell you that there is nothing in the universe that is less romantic. We would look at each other about every 10 minutes and there was nothing that had to be said, but the eyes were like, "how did we ever get to this place?"

Yes, we are going a little crazy, but not body-posing-psycho-crazy. The following really happened. And on this night, in particular, it was excellent to have something to laugh about together.

Brothers, or lovers?  You be the judge.
All I really give a krap about is that they're dead.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Old Ladies

They can get pretty pushy, in my experience.  Not that the rest of us can't, but that particular age/gender group is especially troublesome, IMHO.

We have a "dogs belong on the floor" policy in place at our house. It's cleary being ignored.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sweet 'N Sour

Due to some new responsibilities at work, I'm having to put in some extra hours and that leaves less of them for play.  But I was able to carve out most of today to just play.  Sweet.

John put together an early ride, which was sweet.  It started at the Rocket Market and over coffee, there was talk of whether the rent-a-cat idea was sound.  At first, our enthusiasm over the concept made it all seem very sweet.  But as we talked our way through the logistics of unfamiliar cats and dogs living in the same space and having the run of the whole house all day while Patty and I are at work, as would be required, and the prospect of a meek dog being emotionally scarred for life by a badass cat, and the prospect of a "marking" contest, the whole thing turned toward the sour side.

Although the rent-a-cat concept is not dead, it's just being re-worked.  And there is huge promise.  More to follow on that.

I also learned that Bihl B's been busy bagging beans.  Alliteration's rule, hard, and so this was a solid mark in the sweet column.

The ride itself involved climbing White Road, which is always sweet and sour;  Catharsis, through pain.

The main planned outdoor activity for today, though, was a trip up to Mt Spokane with Patty, to do some cross-country skiing.  We got into this sport a coupla years ago and then didn't do anything with it last year.  And this would be our first time up this year.  So we were rusty and our equipment was dusty.  It was how dusty, that we weren't exactly prepared for.  (Sour is coming, wait for it.)

Back to the mouse invavion, then.  I am totally at a loss to explain how things have gotten to the point that they have.  I think the fact that neither of us have been through a mouse invasion before means that we are were somewhat, if not totally naive.  And of course there's denial and complacency invovled - we first started noticing noises back in the October timeframe.  But there's also this other component, and I am not making this up . . . it seems that our recent agression has awakened the organism within our home that is this mouse nation and there is more activity and evidence than ever, and it is gross and disconcerting as all hell.

So here's the latest:  We went to round up our ski equipment and discovered that our boots had been used for nesting and were filled with poop to the point that no human being with any shred of self respect would ever, in a million years, put a foot in them.  There was no option other than to spend the better part of an hour under a running faucet of scalding-hot water with a bottle of detergent and a long-handled scrub brush, in an effort to de-sanitize.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  After which, of course, the boots were super-soaked and there was zero chance we'd be skiing with them on this day. Super-duper sour then. Bitter and maddening, actually.

We decided to salvage the outing by renting equipment, and we did make it up, and it was sweet.

We ran into our friend Eric, who helped knock the rust off our memory of how to get around the trail system up there by offering us a guided tour.  Sweet.

My fatbike has been on loan to Caveman for the last coupla days so he could play with it on Cave Mountain and once back in town and on the way home, we went to pick it up.  He'd mentioned maybe lowering the stem and that was totally cool with me and so he did that, and liked the results.  I'm looking forward to checking it out over the next few days.  Sweet.

We also stopped and re-stocked, ammunition-wise.  Sweet that we have the tools, I guess, sour that we need them.

We also brought out the big guns, bait-wise.  I don't know how this can be considered anything other than sweet, in the context of the war in which we are engaged.

We'd put the first pair of sanitized boots on the dryer before we'd headed up to ski and when we got back, the stench that we now call "musty mouse" was emanating from the dryer.  Krap.  SOUR!

We set up production in the kitchen tonight and baited a boatload of traps.  It's a good thing that women were cleared to serve on the front lines this week, because Patty is now fully engaged in this battle. She's even calling them "little bastards".  Sour that she has to, sweet that she is.

Victim #4.  I don't know how this could be anything other than SWEET!

The deal about how I was granted exactly one post to talk about the mouse problem. Yeah, I know, it's the elephant in the room.  I've decided to ask forgiveness, because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been granted permission.  I just think this stuff is too important for the bike world not to know about.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Warning: Contains Graphic Images

"War, huh!, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing!"

According to Edwin Starr.

I beg to differ.  Because when you have to lay in bed, night after night, listening to rodents scratch and chew at the wall behind your headboard, and when you have to wake up every morning to little piles of insulation that have been ripped from your walls and deposited in a corner of your kitchen floor, and when you have to listen to them scurrying around the floor joists every time you put a load of laundry in, well, it gets to the point where there is only one way you can respond.  And it's not "live and let live".  And I haven't even mentioned the massive amount of miniature turds.

Yes, we have a mouse problem.  We live in an old house with lots of holes in the envelope, so it's not a surprise.  The only thing that surprises me, really, is that we've lived here 11 years and this is the first time we've had to deal with this problem.  During our initial attack, I found an old d-Con container in the attic space behind our bedroom.  So this is definitely not the first time someone living in this house has had to deal with these little bastards.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I believe that if you commit to war, you should go all in.  So we assembled 8 good-old-fashioned mousetraps, 2 plastic "I've-invented-a-better-mousetrap" mousetraps, and 4 of those sticky bait-traps where they're supposed to go after the irresitable food in the middle and then get stuck to the sticky stuff and then I guess starve to death after the food runs out.  Seems totally inhumane, but I had to see if they worked, and besides, I wasn't gonna let 'em suffer for days.  They didn't work anyways, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Hell yes, I did my research, and according to the all-knowing interwebs, the perfect bait consists of twine wrapped around the, uhhh, "trigger", and then smeared with peanut butter.  That way, they can't just lick the PB off, they have to more vigorously engage the PB-soaked yarn.  Seemed to make all the sense in the world to me.  But of course "good enough", wasn't, for me.  So I was compelled to use almond butter on a few.  For the upper-crust crowd.

The focus is in the wrong place, but you get the idea.  Filthy, shaggy, PB-saturated mouse-gnarl.
So good you wanna roll in it.
(To catch the mouse, you must think like the mouse, become the mouse.)

We set the traps last Saturday night and let me just tell you that the invasion has occupied all three floors of our house.  Which was exactly the amount of floors we set traps on, plus a couple on the back deck.

Upon awakening on Sunday morning, I sprung-from-my-bed-to-see-what-we-had-captured, only to be disappointed to find that floors' 1, 2 and 3 traps were idle. As in untouched.

But upon opening the back door and sauntering out on the deck on this 17° morning, I was delighted to find that we had scored one fat (thanks to pierced bags of top ramen in our pantry) little bastard of a mouse.  I think he might be the king of the merry little band that we are harboring.

I'd been worrying about mice caught halfway in, a tail or paw or something, all ackward, not yet dead and suffering. Which is not a good thought.  So it was great that this first one was a textbook kill:  Clean, perpendicular, instant.  Which bolstered my confidence going forward.

I named him "Cheddar".   For archetypical reasons.

The second trap that had been set on the deck had been untouched.

Although when I went back out just 15-or-so minutes later, it was tripped.  I think maybe Brandy got acquainted with mousetraps.  Hey, who among us can resist peanut butter-soaked-twine?

So a word about mousetraps:  They haven't invented a better one yet, according to my limited experience.  These sticky-type didn't do shit, plus, I hate the concept.  As of tonight, all four are gone, never to return, or be tried again.

Likewise, the two plastic ones (that, although I didn't check, are most definitely made in China,) got tripped but didn't catch anything, but did end up in way different places than where I set them, which means that they tried to catch mice but then there was this big epic struggle and in the end they didn't catch mice.  Which is totally unacceptable, especially when you're paying WAY more than the good old-fashioned traps that are made in . . . wait for it . . . the . . . USA.

The other thing that I will say is that I'm totally freaked out to hell about the diseases that mice carry, according to the interwebs, and that I need major protection in order to handle traps and dead mice and and all of that. You should see the gear that I don.  But of course you never will, because it's flat-out embarassing, and this is my blog. But when you can look at yourself in the mirror and admit that your behavior is comical, and actually laugh out loud at yourself, you are a well-adjusted individual, I think, or at least that's the theory that I choose to embrace in all this, rather than delve into the darkness that is the alternative.

Speaking of dark creepiness, this is my access to the attic space behind our bedroom.  My ribcage fits so tightly between the opening that once I am in position to set traps/retrieve carcasses, I am gasping the air in that attic space that is filled with the smell and, more imprortantly, the airborne disease-carrying particles (of which I have the acute awareness of  the potential to instantly smite me) of tens of hundreds of generations of mouse turds.  Old houses are just charming as hell.  And oh, how I love my new job.

But hey, don't get me wrong. I'm generally all positive and feel really good about our prospects of getting the upper hand.

Victim #2 . . .

. . . and Victim #3 . .

So anyways, welcome to my life.  Glad to be able to share it with you, in all its intimate details. Blogs are the bomb.

I have no idea about how to end this insanely weird post, so I guess I will go in this insanely weird direction . . .

Hank put up this terrific post over at Shallow Cogitations the other day, and as a result, I guess, I've had obitituaries on my mind.  I wondered what one might look like in The Mousington Post . . .

Cheddar Snakefood LXXXI was taken from this world suddenly and prematurely in an occupational/industrial accident on Jan 20th.

He was born in a crawl space on a cold December night in 2011 to proud parents Cheddar Snakefood LXXX and Feta Longstride. Or Maybe it was Gouda Poopsalot. The exact lineage, sadly, will never be validated, as there was a weird threesome thing going on at the time, and those who might have been privy to the details have either disappeared or are known to be deceased. So consider this his approximate his heritage.

His hobbies were chewing up insulation and feasting on dog food. Those who knew him can attest to his legendary achievements on both fronts. He was active in Mouses against Mousketeers, having served back-to-back 2-week terms as president in the summer of '12.  (Although the achievements of this organization were dubious and the agenda may have been about funnelling a greater portion of the available food to high-ranking officials.)

He was preceded in death by 117 oddly-related siblings and is survived by 345 children and "cousins".


Although he was just a very small part of rather huge extended family, he was one-of-a-kind and will be greatly missed.

There will be no memorial service, as there are just too many mice dying right now to make time for memorial services.


Editorial Note:  Patty has only exerted her influence over the content of this blog exactly one time in the past and that was to basically say that "If you don't stop randomly posting pictures of me on your stupid-ass blog, we are gonna have serious trouble, mister". Which to my credit, I heard, loud and clear.

I experienced the second instance of her influence last night, when she happened to walk by as I was reviewing macabre, dead mouse pics. The basic message was, "You are allowed exactly one post with photos of any aspect of what is happening within our home concerning our struggle to deal with this particular problem and if you post a second time, we are gonna have serious trouble, mister". Which to my credit, I heard, loud and clear.  Seems quite reasonable, actually.

So I'm thinking I can probably get away with posting some raw data from this point forward, and that's about it.

Oh krap. I can't believe I just used the word "raw". I might get my blog license totally pulled over this.

See ya when I see ya, if I see ya.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Midwinter Palisades, After Dark

Thanks to my bat-shit-crazy buddy Dave, who organized, and my other bat-shit-crazy-buddy Dan, who threw down, there was a 3-strong fatbike ride tonight on the super sweet trails at Palisades.

"Super sweet?", you may ask, when it was icy as hell on all the streets, sidewalks and parking lots of the spo-lowlands. Yes, in a word.  I was afraid the trails would be all slicknasty, but the little bit of snow that fell last night was all intact and just this lovely soft, tacky blanket over the harsh, post-holed, frozen, worn-in singletrack trails, and there are some sections that are all bermy and fatbike flowey and honestly, rad. So yeah, super sweet.

I feel so happy and so lucky to have a fatbike at this 5 minutes. And just plain old so happy.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thnowthoeing On Thunday

Patty and I met Glen and Christa, along with her substantial crew of friends and family, for some snowshoeing at Antoine Peak this morning.  We would have been nine strong, except that Thylvethter didn't thow.  So it was the eight of us.  (No idea, how this Puddy Tat worked his way into my imagination tonight or how he relates to snowshoeing, or anything that happened today, but I'm rolling with it anyway.)

Upon waking up and looking outside this morning, everything looked dark and foggy-damp-cold and not at all inviting.  But by the time we got to the trailhead, the sun was popping out and hitting the exceptionally crystalliney ground blanket and I could just sense that it was gonna be a rad outing.

The trail was snow boot-walkable out of the parking lot for a few hundred yards, but it didn't take long before we were travelling on a legit snowshoe base, where you'd have been post-holing without them.  Nope, the trail that we were packing with our 'shoes would not be fatbike-rideable, in case you're wondering.

This is our group, less Christa and her mom . . .

Brandy!  Over here!

Candid family portrait, courtesy Glen . . .

It would not have been a complete day for me if it hadn't invovled a little high-marking, so I fell back towards the end, and did my thing.

I just continue to be more impressed with Antoine Peak every time I'm there.  It's so close and yet so removed from the city.  It's real winter there, once you gain a few hundered feet in elevation.  I can't help but think what a fantastic workout it would be to 'shoe to the top.  It would probably be a 5 or 6 hour round trip, with lunch in the middle, maybe at the peak.  Serious food for thought.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

SBR v2

Version 1 of the Saturday Breakfast Ride went pretty well, so Joe, Glen and I decided to make Version 2 happen this morning.  We put together a route and the basic plan was to ride first, then eat on the way home.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the ride:  We got hungry.  So we stopped.  It's good to stay flexible when SBR'ing.

Jenny's Diner is, ambiance-wise, the exact opposite of Frank's Diner, which is a stone's throw away (you can actually see part of it in the background.  Frank's is crowded, cramped and closed-in.  Jenny's is spacious and open, with bigass windows that wrap around 3 sided of the dining area.  It's total Americana.  Nothing against Frank's, which serves a fine breakfast, but the atmosphere at Jenny's just suits me better.  The food's damn good, as well.

There's actually a little more to the story about why we stopped for breakfast right away.  Although the temperature was only about 4 degrees colder than last week, we all agreed that it felt one hell of a lot colder.    Glen wore the same gear this week as last, but he knew right away that it wasn't gonna cut it today and that he was in for one miseable ride.  So he decided, wisely, to abort.  Neither was Joe exactly feelin' the love for these temps.  My feet had gotten cold last week, but I'd switched over to flat pedals and pack boots this week and I was feeling pretty good about things, so I decided to give it a go, and we parted ways.  Did I mention that flexibility is good when SBR'ing.

The planned route was now getting modified in my head and as I pedaled, I remembered that Caveman had been hammering out loop trails up on Cave Mountain with Dave Nelson's fatbike earlier this week, and so I decided to head up there and hit some of the trails he'd been packing down.

It wasn't long before I came across the first of Cave's trails.  (There's been quite a bit of foot traffic over the top, but there were definitely underlying fat tire tracks.)

The trails were flippin' RAD, and by the time I left, I was totally stoked to come back.  The lack of any recent snow and cold temps are just the right formula for great, fat-rideable trails and so I'm busy figuring out  how to take advantage of the opportunity.  I think some night riding after work this week may be the ticket.

Heading down from Cave Mountain on Houston Rd . . .

I circled back via the Centennial Trail and Doomsday Hill, then wound through Kendall Yards.  I wanted to see where the new section of the CT started there.  This is the west endpoint, looking west . . .

And this is the same spot, looking east . . .

I rode from there over to Monroe, but the CT is not continuous yet.  Just east of Central Food, it's blocked now, so there's some threading through the construction that's necessary.  Jeez, the pace of development is really ramping up.  This is gonna be a great bike-to-eat destination, what with CT access and Central Food and whatever other retail comes in.  A great sooner-than-later addition would be a cool, independent coffee house.

So another killer SBR is in the books.  I could get used to these real easy.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Recommended Best Practices

The great thing about having a blog is that you can make your life look so totally awesome, even if it's just regular. Sometimes you have to come clean though, just so you can sleep at night:  You know the new toy I got for Brandy that I told you was so awesome?  Well, not exactly with a capital A.  Or even a small a.  Or a super teeny-tiny a, even.  I'm stopping just short of admitting I lied, but I was not exactly truthful, either.

And since precisely the *only* thing she got for Christmas was something she pretty much could give a krap about at this point (there was some initial infatuation, to be fair), I was feeling like a pretty big heel, and so I got her a replacement gift, which has worked out much better, but which she's still working the bugs out of.

Seems that there's a certain way you can carry it that makes you rely on your master's voice to get you back to home base and a certain other way which lets you see where your going, which is exponentially more convenient.  I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Breakfast Ride

The section of the ride through the Playfair area had a stark, gray feel to it.  Justin remarked that it would be a
good location for shooting an end-of-the-world-themed movie.  I thought it felt Fargo-ish.  Only things we were
missing were a bigass wood chipper and a major disagreement.  And those rad singsong accents, of course.

Yah, you betcha.

Sorry, John, about the text snafu.  Email it is, going forward.